Home > Literature, Reviews > Review of Ace in the Hole (Wild Cards Volume 6) edited by George R R Martin

Review of Ace in the Hole (Wild Cards Volume 6) edited by George R R Martin

After the damp squib that was book five, I’m glad I went straight into book six, because this was a much stronger novel than either of the previous two volumes. The action concerns Senator Gregg Hartmann (who is also secretly the sadistic and manipulative Puppetman) and his struggle to win the Democratic nomination for the Presidency in Atlanta in 1988. Unfortunately for him, there are people trying to stop him.

Ace in the Hole is as good as the excellent volumes two and three in this series, and, like those two books and unlike four and five, is written in the true ‘mosaic novel’ format – the chapters are presented as chapters, rather than separate-but-interlinked novellas. This tactic really pays off at the book’s climax, where we skip from character to character, getting different points of view on the same dramatic events. Some of the writing here is also superior to previous volumes.

The denouement is complex. Some people fail and some succeed, but each state is tempered with its opposite. I couldn’t help feeling that I wanted the bad guys to win – bad guys is too simplistic, the villains here are rendered with sympathy and depth. Justice is done, but it’s not quite satisfactory. And that’s a positive comment on the storytelling, not a negative one: the multiple authors have pulled off something quite compelling and moving here.

Sadly, I haven’t yet secured a copy of volume 7, Dead Man’s Hand. I’m looking forward to it though – after all, some of the storylines introduced in book four have yet to be fully exploited and concluded.

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